Life Lesson #1 From The Inca Trail

Three weeks ago I landed in Peru and was getting ready to embark on one of the biggest and most challenging journeys of my life. On August 31st, my High5 team member, Evelyn, and I started our four-day trek of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Due to some circumstances, we actually arrived in Machu Picchu on the third day. (It is ok to be early!) I learned so much about myself and others as well as the Incas along the way. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of those life lessons. I hope you will walk the path with me.

Life Lesson #1 comes directly from the Incas. Our amazing guides taught us that the Inca tribe had three laws – “Ama Sua. Ama Llulla. Ama Quella” or “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not be lazy”. The context behind these three laws encompassed how the Incas interacted with their family, friends, and neighbors.

I love the simple wisdom of these three rules! We are going to take a little High5 liberty with them to rephrase each law to focus on what we WANT versus what we don’t want. Let’s look at each law and how it can be applied to leadership and life.

1. Take only what belongs to you. It’s easy to apply this to material things. It’s either yours or it’s not. If it’s not yours, then don’t take it. This is a rock-solid rule. It gets even more solid when we apply it to intangibles. As a leader, only take credit for the work that you’ve actually done, and give credit where it’s due. Conversely, take responsibility for what you’ve done, and don’t let the blame fall to someone else.

2. Speak the truth / speak your truth. Again, at face value, this is simple – be honest. Another rock-solid rule. What most don’t realize, however, is that the person we lie to the most is ourselves. We are unwilling to be real with ourselves, and therefore, we don’t speak our truth. What the world needs is for each of us to show up as 100% authentically ourselves. That’s why we are here. When we show up as the best version of ourselves, and allow others to show up as the best version of themselves, without judgement, the world becomes that much better.

3. Contribute to the Collective. The Incas say “Don’t Be Lazy”. Since they didn’t have TVs to sit on the couch and binge watch the latest fad series, I was interested to know what they meant by this law. What I learned is that each person was expected to contribute to the greater good of the tribe as well as help each other. It is the understanding that when we work together, support each other, and have each other’s back, we can accomplish MUCH more. In looking at the amazing engineering, architecture, farming, and the Incan version of urban planning, you can see how much value this law brought them. This way of thinking is exactly what we teach at High5 relative to building a High Performing Team. When each person “shows up” for the team, the team will produce bigger results.

Clearly, I’ve taken a few liberties with the three Inca laws. However, I believe there is great benefit to having simple values like these that we live our lives by. They guide our choices, and as a result, we leave the world better today than it was yesterday. Doesn’t that make sense?

Tune in next week for Life Lesson #2 from the Inca Trail